All pics from Dad’s trip have been uploaded to the Album.
I think Dad enjoyed himself in Cambodia. When he arrived at the airport, we had made the poor decision to collect him from the airport in a TukTuk! We thought it would be a bit of fun and had already organised it, but didn’t realise it would take 45 minutes or so to get to the airport – so we ended up being late. This didn’t stop Wee Pete from panicking and phoning Lesley and Pete at 2.30am on a Monday morning to tell them we were not at the airport. We got there however, spotted him straight away and got him into the TukTuk. As I loaded his suitcase on, I had the distinct impression that with the size and weight of the case, Dad was staying for at least 3 months 🙂
We spent 2 days in Phnom Penh just to give Dad sometime to recover from the flight and get acclimatised, and spending time just catching up. Phonm Penh is actually a really big City, but the central area is easy enough to get around and there are many bars and restaurants, mainly on the riverside of the Mekong. It’s quite nice strolling around, especially down by the riverfront, taking in the lovely architecture of the Silver Pagoda and the imposing Grand Palace.
We had booked the bus for Siem Reap from our local bar over the street, the staff were very friendly with us, and we would leave at 11am to arrive around 5pm. As soon as we arrived at the bus station in Siem Reap, we had two TukTuk’s waiting on us to take us to the accommodation. Just like VIP’s, we had a message board awaiting the arrival of Mr Michelle ha ha !!
The TukTuk’s whizzed us about taking us to our preferred hotel only to find that the accommodation was fully booked. The TukTuk drivers buzzed us about to various alternative accommodation within the vicinity, only to find all were fully booked. After reassuring Dad, accommodation is never a problem, I was secretly getting a little concerned. Not to worry, we found what we were looking for, and were quite happy to get two really nice double rooms. Dad seemed quite impressed with the standard and quality for the price we were paying – $7 a room 😉
And that was it, settled in, we headed out to take in the relaxed village town of Siem Reap. Quite touristy, but probably just what we needed to make dad comfortable. In all fairness, we were quite happy too, seeing cosy bar after bar, with subdued lighting and decent menu’s – if not on the higher side of the scale for what me and Michelle are used too. Still at $4 for a meal, and $2 for a large beer, you really couldn’t complain.
I kept checking these Western menu’s pitched for the tourist’s, hoping to find some variation for Dad, but it was all Steak, Roast Chicken, Burgers, Pizza and french fries, french fries, and more french fries. We mainly stick to local food, and we have been really impressed with the Khymer cuisine. A mixture of Chinese, Thai and Indian fusion is the way I would best describe it.
Siem Reap is a lovely little town, and after freshening up, we would all head out together taking in the market, or just wandering through the streets and small cobbled alleys around Pub Street and “The Alley”. Sometimes we would just hang out in the open street bars watching the world go by.
Dad had some problems with a niggling nerve in his back, and seemed to be “cured” by a miracle foot massage.
Since Dad was on his “Holidays” we encouraged him to try the fish foot spa. Little fish nibble at your feet, taking away all the dead skin and debris. It is really tickly, but it does work !
Dad has this knack of engaging the locals, even though he talks in his broad thick Dundee accent. The communication is not lost however when you are being friendly – a smile and a laugh connects and makes an impact. So Dad became known as “Papa” by all the locals, and it was really “pure dead brilliant” hearing Dad saying stuff like “Eh like ma toast broon, no the wyes yooz dae it, kin ye mak ma toast broon”. The local would look really confused, so Dad would emphasise “Broon, eh wid like it BROON, ye ken?, BROON”. 🙂 That’s ma wee Papa!
We bought the 3 day pass for the temples of Angkor, the real reason for being here, and taking a TukTuk to get us around the site. We did Angkor Wat in the evening, the biggest of the temples, and although impressive mainly because of the scale, the best was yet to come.
Angkor Thom is a walled citadel containing some staggeringly beautiful and breathtaking stone temples and structures within a 4km square footprint. The gates themselves are impressive enough, about the height of a small cathedral, and each with the huge carved face you can see at either side of our blog. Built almost a thousand years ago, the extensive site was abandoned in the 15th century and only rediscovered around a hundred or so years ago. The site was overgrown by jungle and has been cleared over this period of time. The design, construction and quality of the stone masonry and sculptures is exceptional and truly wonderful.
The Bayon temple is famous the world over for it’s 54 towers, with each containing a large sculpted face looking out to the four cardinal points. It was all a bit Lara Croft, and funnily enough, on reading the guide we discovered that parts of the movie had actually been filmed here. Pra Thom is a temple where massive century old trees and their roots are actually growing through the structure.
We were walking around and exploring the site when we found ourselves’ at the back of Baphoun, which looked like it needed some restoration work as the walls seemed to be bellying out. In actual fact, we were both stunned to see that the walls had been fashioned in this way, as you suddenly realise that they were shaped into a massive reclining Buddha. I estimate this was about at least three storeys high, staggering in scale and really impressive.
I really enjoyed our time here, spending three days just investigating and exploring the site. There are huge moats, beautiful large static ponds with floating bright red water lillies, exotic flora and fauna, large tropical palm tree’s, all surrounding these ancient classical buildings.
You really need more time however as you can spend forever here, each time discovering something new. Lara Croft seemed to be really enjoying herself as well.
On our last night in town, Dad got really adventurous and went for steak and chips followed by an ice cream with Baileys! He also had a lager shandy – what a total pisshead ! 🙂
Before we knew it, that week had gone so quickly and it was time to head back to Phnom Penh, giving us a last night together before Dad’s flight back home.
When we arrived back at our local bar, Dad was greeted like a long lost “Papa”, with the locals shouting “Hey Papa!” and getting lots of attention and hugs from the young friendly bar staff. I felt so proud. Is my wee Dad Jesus in disguise? Did Jesus liked his toast “Broon” ? 🙂
The next day arrived too soon, and I was feeling really quite down as we sat in the bar watching the clock tick knowing this was our final few hours together. We were having a great time with Dad and wishing he had at least another week. But it was a TukTuk to the airport and time to say goodbye for now. I absolutely hate goodbyes, but managed to be quite strong seeing Dad off at the airport without getting too emotional.
When we got back to the hotel, I passed Dad’s now vacant room, and I am not embarrassed to say, I welled up. My wee pal was not here anymore, and it just felt strange that he had gone. We were both missing him, and it took day or two to get used to it just being the two of us again. But it was great for me that Dad had been with us to see Angkor.
Later that night, the two of us pulled out the Lonely Planet and decided to go to Sihanoukville – an area with various beaches – it was time for the beach hut bars and some chill time. I had to get to Ritchies Bar on Otres Beach – a recommendation from Denis while in Bangkok – a bar run by some Scot’s lads that liked to party hard 🙂